The fascist regime of Benito Mussolini adopted in 1938 a series of measures known as the "racial laws", which excluded, among others, the Jewish army and education and limited their property rights. In 1939, the "Duce" signed the "Pact of Steel" with Nazi Germany. During World War II, more than 7,000 men, women and children were Italian Jews exterminated in the death camps.
After presiding over the destinies of Italy for over twenty years, Mussolini was deposed and arrested in 1943 after a succession of defeats Italy and the Allied invasion of Italy. Released by a German commando, he created the Italian Social Republic in northern Italy, said Salo regime, a totalitarian fascist dictatorship, before being arrested and shot by partisans in 1945.
Silvio Berlusconi's remarks on the "Duce" sparked a fierce outcry in Italy, both within the Jewish community in the political environment. "These remarks are not only superficial and inappropriate, but also (…) private moral and historical foundation," denounced Sunday the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna.
"Persecution and Italian anti-Semitic racial laws were born before the war and have been applied in full autonomy under the full responsibility of the fascist regime, and later ally voluntary and conscious accomplice of Nazi Germany," did he said, arguing that the statement Cavaliere demonstrate "how Italy is still struggling to accept seriously its own history and its own responsibilities."